Dream Adventure, Part 2
The comfort of real pillows and my real bed! Yes, I have finally
completed my dream adventure, riding 1350 miles, the length of
California. Along the way and since returning home, I have been asked
hundreds of questions such as, "What was it like? What did you
learn? Was it harder than you thought it would be? Whatís
next?" And the most common question, "Does your butt hurt?
As I read what I have
posted in the past, I realized there is so much that I havenít
included. Over 1000 miles were covered since my last update. Many
towns and lots of wonderful people and incredible views of California.
After a week-long camping trip, most of us have lots of stories to
tell. But after 100 days of riding and camping, my stories take longer
than most people have time to listen. Some lessons I learned are hard
to explain, and I struggle to not play them down or over-dramatize the
My trip was more than I
expected in every way. The adventure could not be explained in a few
words or paragraphs. It was as much an emotional journey as a physical
one. Away from the daily distractions of modern living at the pace of
Silicon Valley, California is beautiful and full of wonderful people
and wildlife. My focus was not on malls, freeways, stock markets, and
local business news, but, more on the beauty of life around me. Of
course, I was closer to those instinctual survival skills since the
basics are what I dealt with daily. "Where will I sleep and what
will I eat?" was the mission statement of each day.
The education I
received could never be learned in an arena or on a week-end camping
trip. The lessons I learned were important because there was a test
every day and mistakes could be more costly so far from home.
The bonding formed with
my horses is greater than I ever expected. People commented daily on
how my horses and I had a language of our own and how dependent we
seemed on each other. Being together day and night for 100 days, each
day bringing new obstacles and challenges, made us all sensitive to
each others' behaviors.
My horses were
challenged daily and they passed every test they faced. They were
asked to ride hard and face "sensitivity tests" each and
every day. Bridges of all shapes (some with only grates for floors);
other animals they had never seen before; strange shapes and colors
everywhere; and large tons of steel making huge amounts of noise as
they came towards them at incredible speeds (the notorious
horse-eating semi-trucks). Trails were often narrow or filled with
snow, and water was not always there when thirst arose. There were
never any barn-sour attitudes as we just kept venturing farther from
home. My horses are the true heroes of the trip.
In "Be Tough or Be
Gone" Tom Davis wrote, "When you travel by pack train you
get a whole new perception of the goodness of people." (Tom is a
cowboy who in 1976 rode his horse and led a pack train 4,500 miles
from El Paso, Texas to Fairbanks, Alaska.)
I depended on this
goodness of people for living quarters almost daily and they always
came through. Many others came along and gave me help, in many forms.
Sometimes they gave water, directions, food, or words of
encouragement. Those who just gave me a chance to talk to another
human being helped more than anyone but I knew. I depended on my
support team to bring the correct supplies at the correct time and
place. I depended on friends and family back home to care for my
animals and possessions I had left behind. And I depended on my horses
of course. It was not a trip I could have done alone and done the
so-called "survive off the land" thing that is often spoken
of. The fact is, I had a dream adventure I will never forget and I
will always be in debt to those who helped to make it happen.